Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Extra Stories For Long Winter Nights

NH Lineman   -   I live in New Hampshire/USA, and have seen Van perform live many times in New England and New York, starting with the Wavelength Tour in 1978. Caught him on the waterfront in Boston, late June/1995 (6th row centre/both nights). Peter Wolf showed up at at least one of these shows, in his traditional all black get-up. Prior to the show, Wolf pranced around the audience to make sure everyone saw him...lol (wondering if that wasn't when he and Van went to the old Cambridge apt address, after the show?). Anyway, I happened to be parking the car during Van's soundcheck on the first night (thought they were playing a Van tape, at first). After Van got done, Shana Morrison, who IMHO did NOT inherit her dad's vocal pipes, gets up and belts out a great version of Wild Night. There was nobody in the audience section, and nobody else in the vast empty parking lot, but me. Great memory.

Joe Camilleri   -   I was fronting Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons at the time and no one else turned up to this party apart from Van and me. So we're sitting down in front of a TV and all he's given me is a nod. I figure, that's fair enough, I got something. But then he starts talking to me about Ray Charles. Not looking at me, though. Looking at the TV. We must have spent half an hour talking about Ray Charles and had no real eye contact. I saw him play the next night and he had his back to the audience. He was into the music, he wasn't into being an entertainer. Took me a while to sort of understand that.

orange1690   -   About twenty years ago I was in pub in Bangor, Northern Ireland. I was with my cousins who live there. Van Morrison (who I believe also lives in Bangor) was sitting at the bar. My cousin told me to go ask him for an autograph. I reluctantly did. Van Morrison told me to get lost and threatened to smash his pint glass in my face! My cousins thought it was hilarious.

Danny Holloway   -   Them played a warm-up gig before their Whiskey residency at the Cinnamon Cinder in Long Beach. I went and talked to Van and the others after the show. They had a great intro: upon being introduced, David Harvey jumped on stage and began played a pronounced kick beat, Alan Henderson soon joined him with a familiar 2 note bass line and on it went until 4 Irishmen vamped on Baby Please Don’t Go. Lastly, Van shuffled to the mic and wailed piercing notes on harmonics. So, after the show, me and drummer Steve Roosh told Them we’d see them at the Whiskey. 

The Whiskey shows were insane. Them drank as much booze as they could. One night, Van was atop a super reverb sized amp waving his arms like a bird as the amp teetered back and forth. Captain Beefheart supported Them the first week and The Doors supported the following week. Jim Morrison wore a suit and was very reserved, frequently performing with his back to the audience. I moved to London in 1970 and began writing for the NME. I interviewed Van at his home in San Rafael. As usual in interviews, Van was prickly. I left the NME and worked for Island Records. In 1975 I was doing overdubs at Island’s Basing Street studios for a reggae album  produced called Night Food by The Heptones. I’d noticed that Jackie McCauley had been gigging in London and arranged for him to overdub guitar on The Heptones songs Country Boy and play talk box on Mama Say. He came to the session dressed entirely in black and was easy to get along with.

Nuffzed   -   At Easter in 1963, I was travelling home to ‘Blighty’ on leave from Sennelager, in what was then West Germany. I travelled by train with another ‘Squaddie’ who had invited me to spend time at his family home near Guildford. Our journey across that part of Europe was made by train and although ‘skint’, we decided that we should stop-over in Paris before catching our ferry to Dover.

Easter time in Europe can it seems, either be bloody hot or bitterly cold. Sadly for us, it was the latter. This I remember to this day, mainly because I was wearing a lightweight suit. I cannot recall much about Paris on this short visit that is worthy of note, other than a mandatory visit to the very top of the Eiffel Tower. I imagine that in those days, the price of a ticket was not as extortionate as it is today otherwise I would not be recounting this tale.

Arriving at the bleak viewing platform, for that is what is was then, I was not surprised to find that apart from the two of us, there was nobody else there other than some other unfortunate guys looking equally as frozen as we were. I immediately recognised who they were and as seems the accepted custom between public and celebrities, walked across to make sure that they indeed knew who they were. “You’re Them, I barked accusingly.

The next time that I met Van Morrison was over 20 years later at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho where, as the guest of the legendary Jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, he sang Send in the Clowns. Sadly this was to be Baker’s last live appearance before his tragic death in Amsterdam.

Eddy   -   I saw Van and Them in the Public Rooms, Tunbridge Wells in June 1965. I was 14 years old. It was a fantastic gig. I don’t think they had any alcohol on the premises. I remember I was drinking Coca Cola mixed half and half with milk. My favourite drink at the the time. Coca Cola was pretty new in England at that time. I remember inventing The Ski dance to Them.  Great show. Most people there were doing the Twist or some sort of rendition of it. I got so high with the night that I could have skied upwards any mountain. Well, here it comes.Here comes the night. Marvellous memory. 

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